I know it’s over due but Welcome to Week Three!
Like most of my review for Mint this will probably be a bit longer then my other reviews. This program just has so much going on, it has taken quite some time to sift through it. Over the next few weeks we will look at the four remaining feature tabs, Goals, Trends, Investments and Ways to Save. I have decided to break these last four sections up over two posts since there is so much going on here and it was running into a ridiculously large amount of words. This week we will focus on Goals and Trends.
The Goals Tab
The Goals sections objective is pretty obvious it wants you to set some financial goals. On the left side of the page they identified some of the most used goals, (and have identified them with pictures!) There is also an option to create your own goal. The right side of the page gives you some brief directions on setting up your goal. This part was pretty easy. I selected “pay off credit card” as my first goal and the work was really already done for me.
Since all my accounts are linked to the program, my total balance of my accounts is already there. It asked for the interest rate and minimum payment made to the accounts, then gives you a really neat sliding scale to play with. Here you can get a better idea of how quickly you will pay off your debt if you add additional money to your payments. The really cool part was it calculates how much you would actually save by adding to your minimum payment. To me this was a great feature. Loved it!
There are several other goals to select from, but you can also create your own. To do this you name the goal, set an amount to save, and upload a picture. It does sneak in a little advertisement in the suggestion of opening a new account to save for the goal, but you can bypass that an select one you already have or put that off until later. You select the amount you want to save monthly and the date you want to achieve your goal. So far, despite the advertisements, I love this section. It really brings home why we are doing the budget in the first place. Unlike, other areas of the program, this one was quick and easy to understand and it was actually fun to set goals and envision reaching them.
The Trends tab
The Trends tab is the next to explore. This one was not so intuitive. On the left sidebar of the page you can view various bar graphs which break down financial trends for spending, income, assests, debt and net worth. These bar and pie charts further break down over time, by spending category and by merchant. (Your can see if you are hitting the Starbucks to many times!)
At the bottom of the page it gives you a breakdown of your spending by category. This might be helpful if you are having a hard time determining where you might need to trim in your budget. Next to this area, is what I feel is the most important piece of information on the page. It tells you what categories you are making the most purchases. This helped me to discover (as I suspected) I am over spending on food and restaurants. The tab is interesting and fun to look at, but it was almost to much information to sort through to have a real impact on my spending.
Graphs to Try
There is also an area entitled Graphs to Try. Here you could cycle through various questions like ” How did I spend my money last month?,” and “How have my food and dining cost compared to last month?,” I thought this was a great feature of this area It was more specific and easy to understand then most of the other graphs, that to me offered to much information to make sense out of. Frankly, I don’t have the time to sort through most of these graphs and find out where my spending is going “overall,” and “by category,.” Seeing these questions laid out this way was just much quicker for me to understand and make use of.
Next week I will go into more description of the Investment and Ways to Save tabs. Finally, I will finish up this section with a summary review of Mint.com. This program just shows you so much information in different ways it is a lot to get through. Thanks for hanging with me.
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